Celtic's Olivier Ntcham can't afford repeat of Paisley madness
Olivier Ntcham and Paisley have a bit of a rocky relationship.
Twice the Frenchman has been there with Celtic, and on both occasions he’s experienced massively differing performances.
Neil Lennon’s Celtic went there as recently as April and strolled to a cool 2-0 win. Ntcham played the majority of that one, and even though he missed a penalty, it was a reliable enough display from him.
It’s his one before that he should be looking to ensure doesn’t make a repeat appearance on Boxing Day.
After Celtic beat Rangers 1-0 in the first derby of last season, the Hoops, then under Brendan Rodgers, went to St Mirren two weeks later in their next fixture.
Ntcham, ironically the goalscorer in that derby win, was given a role against the Buddies in what looked a straightforward encounter. That was until kick-off at least.
From the first whistle, the Frenchman looked like he was begging to be sent off. He committed two early fouls before making a third and being given a yellow card. He then found himself getting away with two more which were borderline, before clattering into Stephen McGinn and ultimately being sent off.
Ntcham’s worst-ever Celtic display came in Paisley
Celtic would draw the game 0-0, with Ntcham effectively costing us with an unusually hot-headed display from the Frenchman.
It’s unclear as to what made the former Manchester City midfielder see the red mist in Paisley. As mentioned, his most recent trip there was solid enough if not spectacular.
And that’s the least we expect from him on Boxing Day if selected. Lenny has put plenty of faith in Ntcham recently, starting him in our last four Premiership matches as well as our last two Europa League games.
He’s slowly been rebuilding his Parkhead reputation once again. After his comments to L’Equipe about looking to leave the club last summer, it’s been a long road back for Ntcham. However, he should just be glad he managed to find one.
Another repeat of the September craziness from last season just won’t be on. It could seriously set him back with the supporters once again, and given everything he’s put into this season, that would be a real shame.
So he has more motivation than anyone to go out on Boxing Day and put in a performance. St Mirren are, in a way, Ntcham’s bogey team when it comes to performance levels. Hopefully, he puts all of that to bed on Thursday.